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British-Nigerian Olympic champion Onuora says she suffered sexual assault, racial discrimination while competing for UK

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RETIRED British track and field athlete Anyika Onuora has revealed she was racially abused and sexually assaulted during the 18 years she represented the UK. 

In her new book, ‘My Hidden Race’, the 37-year-old Olympic champion, who was born in the UK to Nigerian parents, reveals the brutal reality of professional sport for many black females.

Speaking about her book which was released in March 2022, Onuora said she had spent 18 months of her life writing down her experience in the world of sports which she hopes would “shine an intense light on the brutal reality of professional sport for many athletes, especially black sportswomen”.

“Writing this book has been one of the most painful, but also rewarding experiences of my life. Some good, some bad but also some truly brutal moments.

British-Nigerian Olympic champion
Anyika Onuora holding up the framed cover page of her book.

“I’m proud of what I achieved as an athlete, but I know that this story will be my greatest achievement yet. The book will take you into a world far from the spotlight of the Olympic torch, ” she said.

In ‘My Hidden Race’, Onuora recalls a male ‘drunk’ athlete who first grabbed her waist ‘strongly’ while she was competing abroad before he followed her back to her room, forced the door open at 3:00 am and pinned her to the bed.

He allegedly took off her underwear before she sprang up and began kicking him in the groin and urging herself to “just keep fighting with everything”.

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In another incident, a physio sexually assaulted her, pushing his groin onto her while giving her a massage, she alleged.

“I have experienced things as a British athlete that haunt me during the day and the night. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to outrun the demons in my mind.

“I have been brutally sexually assaulted, experienced frequent racial abuse, and attempted suicide twice. All while competing for my country,” she disclosed.

While growing up in the Dingle suburb of Liverpool, Onuora recalled being spat on, racially abused with bricks thrown at her house. She was burgled and attacked by a gang every week and her family’s car was destroyed in arson until she moved to Wavertree.

Onuora said she never reported her ordeals to the British Athletics but hopes to raise awareness now to encourage other women in sport to share their stories.

Award-winning South African writer Donald McRae, said of Onuora’s book: “I’ve read various drafts…I think it’s going one of the great books of 2022. It’s shocking, it’s raw, it’s humane and it’s profound. I also hope it will help to bring about meaningful change”.

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